Hunting for medicine hidden in plants

Wading through the swamp made my leg prosthesis gnaw, but I shattered through the discomfort. That was in July last year, and I led a team of 11 students and scientists through a steamy nature reserve in southwest Georgia to hunt for plants. The meeting was thick, but the swamp was beautiful: cypresses with bud knees stood like withered guards over clusters of lush green ferns.

My team moved together to cut pieces of plants, squeeze them into sheets of paper, and stuff them in large collection bags. Later, in my research lab at Emory University, we would test their chemical compounds against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The opportunity to develop new drugs from elements of nature like our leaf clippings is important to everyone, but it is personal to me; after losing my leg as a child, i almost died as a result of post-surgical infection.

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